On Monday night, July 23, about 30 friends and family gathered
for the national debut of the Vermont Inn's spotlight on the Travel
Channel's show "Hotel Impossible." Samantha McLemore and Jeremy
"JB" Smith, the new owners of the Inn and Tim Hammond, McLemore's
brother in-law and the innkeeper, were particularly anxious prior
to the showing as no one knew the slant the final cut would take.
After days of shooting, the Hotel Impossible crew was tasked with
cutting down the film to just one hour.
The 16 bedroom Vermont Inn was selected as a feature for Hotel
Impossible, one of the Travel Channel's most popular shows, because
of its potential for success after some necessary changes. Not
knowing what would happen to their inn going into the show, Smith
and McLemore knew something had to change and were desperate for
expert help. With open minds, and hearts full of hope, they
welcomed Anthony Melchiorri, the hotel "fixer," into the Vermont
Inn. With a lot of laughter and many tears, they shared their
Built in 1840, the hotel has been through many transformations,
another chapter is now being written. This time it has a little to
do with spackling and paint and more to do with family,
relationships, workmanship, and a future for the next
It all started with a dream to own an inn in the heart of the
Green Mountains; trials and tribulations came shortly after.
Since McLemore and Smith bought the Inn at an auction November
8, 2011 for $270,000, they have spent over $500,000 and were
continuing to lose money. Major renovations were needed at the
onset, which was expected. But adding to that loss, was low traffic
coming through their restaurant and many empty rooms. To avoid
hiring help and increasing the losses, Hammond was working over 100
hours a week, while trying to balance his role as a husband and
father. Hammond's wife Jennifer (McLemore's sister), felt like a
single mother, raising her kids in the Inn while her husband worked
long hours. Not only was this affecting her marriage, it was
causing resentment towards her sister for hiring Hammond to run the
McLemore and Smith still live in Baltimore and trust Hammond to
manage the restaurant, the Inn, and still have time for his family.
He takes a great deal of personal pride in the Inn's success but it
is at the expense of his family life.
The status quo was unsustainable. The new owners of the Vermont
Inn knew they were in trouble and were going to have to make some
Camera crews followed Anthony Melchiorri, an arrogant host
dressed in a black suit and tie. He followed the family around the
Inn, stomping through their overgrown gardens, digging through
their profit and loss statements, questioning the business plans
and goals, and asking personal questions about family dynamics and
When Melchiorri learned that Hammond spent about 40 of his hours
each week in a restaurant that was consistently losing money, he
knew instantly that the restaurant needed to go, at least for
The choice to close the restaurant was not decided lightly-
McLemore was especially weary. But when Melchiorri presented the
facts it became clear. The restaurant was losing about $10,000 per
month, was overextending Hammond, and it was estimated that it
would take at least a year for it to turn around. Since all agreed
that the status quo could not be sustained, they decided to
re-focused their marketing efforts on the thing that does turn a
profit; booking guests in their rooms.
In addition to the restaurant closing, Melchiorri had many other
The beginning scenes were of garbage cans, toilet plungers and
broken shutters, a housekeeping closet in disarray, and a 'bridal
suite' that was outdated. In short, there was a lot of work to
Turning the Vermont Inn into a wedding destination was a long-term
goal for McLemore and Smith when they bought the Inn. But after
Melchiorri's unflattering laundry list of property "failures," that
dream had all but disappeared. So it was a great surprise when
Melchiorri brought in Sabrina Brown of Woodstock Productions, a
wedding planner from Woodstock.
Vermont is consistently ranked a top destination for weddings
and the Vermont Inn has 20,000 people that drive by on Route 4
every busy weekend in Killington. With these facts Melchiorri saw
hosting weddings not as a dream, but as an immediate
To start, they needed pictures of a beautiful wedding on the
property in order to promote the venue as a wedding destination.
The only way to do that was to have a wedding - they had two days
to make it happen.
Brown was responsible for finding the bride and groom, an
interior designer was hired to completely transform the bridal
suite, and everyone got busy working to realize this dream.
One weekend wedding could fill all of their rooms (32 bookings)
and that would slowly help them get out of the red.
In a week, the Vermont Inn was given a facelift and a new focus.
From little changes of light fixtures to an incredible bridal
suite, the Vermont Inn was transformed into a premier wedding
The wedding went off without a hitch and the photos were perhaps
even more spectacular with the ominous clouds threatening.
It wasn't only the Inn that changed, a transformation happened
within the family too. They pulled together to pull off a wedding.
And without the restaurant, Tim Hammond was able to carve out more
time for his wife and two-year-old daughter- and newborn son, born
Thursday, July 19. The sisters embraced with renewed determination
(and tears), saying they wanted to see this thing through as a
The Vermont Inn has been set on a new path and viewers
nationwide got a glimpse of just how difficult it can be to run a
small inn. Although the future is still uncertain for the Vermont
Inn, all are hopeful that they are headed in the direction of
Many more transformations will happen in the years to come, albeit
less publicly. The lesson from their story is one to remember:
Dreams are attainable with hard work, proper focus and, most
To learn more about the Vermont Inn visit:
To watch the Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible" feature on the
Vermont Inn visit: